Thursday, December 27, 2012

PERTH COUNTY CONSPIRACY - Breakout To Berlin


Artist: Perth County Conspiracy
Album: Breakout To Berlin
Label: Rumour
Catalog: KC 1015
Year: 1977
Designer: Abie Sussman and Bob Defrin
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Noel
Grade: *** star

 
 
I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain why I like this one - the bright color; the Brandenburg Gate cover?   The weird story behind the album - hippy Canadian band records an album in East Germany ...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DENNIS COFFEY - Back Home


Artist: Dennis Coffey
Album: Back Home
Label: Westbound
Catalog: WB 300
Year: 1977
Designer: Abie Sussman and Bob Defrin
Photographer:
Design artist: Bruce Evans
Grade: * star (miserable)



Hum, I guess you could blame the artistic concept on the era - after all it was the mid-1970s when smoking was still considered to be a normal social activity ...  how many of you can remember ashtrays on restaurant tables?   Does't matter - it's still a hideous album cover.  Simply awful.   Makes me want to go rinse with mouthwash. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

BAMBOO - Grandpa was way cool in '69



Artist: Bamboo
Album: Bamboo
Label: Elektra
Catalog: EKS-74048
Year: 1969
Designer:
Photographer:
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ** stars



I shouldn't point a finger at anyone since there are some hideous photos of earlier style mistakes I've made - stay away from my high school yearbook unless you want to see the plad prom suit ...  Regardless, you have to admit that Dave Ray and Will Donicht  may have set the standard with their '60s hippy threads !!!  Way cool there guys and I bet the grandkids are impressed as all. About the only things missing are the love beads and a Nehru jacket.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - Springsteen's coolest package - Greetings from Asbury Park


Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Album: Greetings from Ashbury Park
Label: Columbia
Catalog: KC 31903
Year: 1975
Designer: John Berg
Photographer: Tichnor Brothers
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars



 
I love the beach; been going there since I was a young child (Alabama and Delaware rather than the Jersey shore), which might partially explain why I think this is such a cool cover. The tacky, detachable, oversized beach postcard is just a classic.   

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

LES SINNERS - Perhaps the cover had something to do with why this was Les Sinners last studio LP


Artist: Les Sinners
Album: Le Chemin de Croix de Jos Roy
Label: CBS
Catalog: PFS 90383
Year: 1976
Designer: Daniel Poulin
Photographer: Daniel Poulin
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: * star (disturbing)




I'm a big fan of the Canadian band Les Sinners, but have to admit this 1976 release was a surprise to me.  I found it at a yard sale and originally wasn't even sure it was by the same band.  The strange title which seemingly translates as "The Way of the Cross for Jis Roy", coupled with bizarre, semi-religious artwork (a hand seemingly rising from the grave), didn't exactly make for an inviting package.  I'll let you be the judge.   By the way, anyone out there know what the plotline was on the album ?   The lyrics are in French and I've never been able to find a review that explains the story line.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

DELBERT MCCLINTON - what's that in your wallet guy ?


Artist: Delbert McClinton
Album: Genuine Cowhide
Label: ABC
Catalog: ABCD-959
Year: 1976
Designer: Tom Wilkes
Photographer: Ron Slenzak
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ****



Unforturnately this is one of those covers that doesn't lend itself to a flat screen presentation.  To get the full effect you need to hold the embossed cover in your hand.  And yes, the cover reflects a worn wallet with an equally worn condom showing through.  Original copies of the LP were embossed so that the condom was even more obvious.  You had to wonder how in the world ABC executives were ever convinced to go along with this one ...

CURTIS MAYFIELD and Ernie Barnes


Artist: Curtis Mayfield
Album: And Here's Soemthing To Believe In
Label: RSO
Catalog: RS-1-3077
Year: 1980
Designer: Glenn Ross
Photographer: not applicable
Design artist: Ernie Barnes
Grade: **** stars




1980's "And Here's Something To Believe In" is one of those Curtis Mayfield albums that seems to have skirted by without a lot of notice.  Shame, since the album includes several classic tunes (Tripping Out'').  

That said, the late Ernie Barnes cool cover painting is what initially caught my attention.  Barnes has had his work featured on a number of albums (Donald Byrd's "125th Street NYC", B.B. King's "Making Love Is Good for You", Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" Faith Hope and Charity's self titled LP), but this is the cover that I find the most mesmerizing.  There's just something mesmerizing in Barnes painting of a female DJ.  I've spent hours looking at the work's details.   I think the painting was titled "Late Night DJ", but I'm not certain.  Anyone out there know ?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

THE ROLLING STONES - Their Satanic Majesties Request


Artist: The Rolling Stones
Album: Their Satanic Majesties Request
Label: London
Catalog: NPS-2
Year: 1967
Designer: Michael Cooper
Photographer: Michael Cooper
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: ***** stars (classic)





I'm a big Stones fan, but will readily admit that the packaging for "Their Satanic Majesties Request" beats most of the songs.  

There's apparently an entire cottage industry built around this album - with a little bit of effort you can find more about it that you ever wanted to know.  

Initially entitled "Cosmic Christmas", The Stones played around with a cover concept that would have shown a naked Mick Jagger splayed on a cross.   I'm thinking that might not have been the way to go.  

Michael Cooper was responsible for the concept and took the famous photograph which was produced with a cool, holographic effect.  The Stones apparently envisioned releasing the album with a holographic cover for the entire front panel, but the costs proved prohibitive and they settled for a smaller 8" x 8" panel that was glued on to the front panel.  Even the reduced size 3D panel proved expensive (Decca and London reportedly lost money pressing the gimmick cover) and later releases dropped the 3-D cover in favor of a conventional photograph.  

The resulting 'concept' seems to have just sort of evolved out of an existing vacuum with nobody really in charge.  Keith Richards talked a bit about the cover in 2003:  "I can remember virtually nothing of those sessions. It's a total blank. We were pretty much the way we look on the cover!  The thing I remember most about making [the album] is that cover. We went to New York with Michael Cooper and met a Japanese guy who had a camera that could produce a 3-D effect. We built the set on acid, went all round New York getting the flowers and the rest of the props; we were painting it, spraying it. We were just loony, and after the Beatles had done Sgt. Pepper, it was like, Let's get even more ridiculous."   And on that note, they succeeded.  Whereas the Sgt. Pepper looked groundbreaking, "Satanic Majesties" looked imitative, or perhaps just plain silly.   .

Dressed up in goody costumes and looking quite stoned, when the image was tilted Watts, Richards, Wyman and Jones appeared to swivel their heads as if they were looking at one another, while Jagger's hands appeared to cross.  Elsewhere, supposedly a response to The Beatles having included a nod to The Stones on "Sgt Pepper" (look for the doll that says "welcome the Rolling Stones", the cover included embedded pictures of the Fab Four.  It takes a little effort, but if you tilt the panel in the right direction you can find them:

- McCartney is found on the left side, about two inches under the sunflowers.
- Harrison can be found on Charlie Watts sleeve.
- Lennon's the hardest to see - he's slightly below and to the right of the yellow star trails on Brian Jones' clothing
- Ringo's about an inch to the right of the yellow star on Jones' clothing.



BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD - Last Time Around


Artist: The Buffalo Springfield
Album: The Last Time Around
Label: ATCO
Catalog: SD 33-256
Year: 1968
Designer: Jimini Productions
Photographer: not listed
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars


As I was reminded by a friend, group cover shots are a dime-a-dozen.  As an example, the band Afterglow released an album a full year before this one that featured a group cover shot.  (I'll have to add that one to the list).  Regardless, while it may not be the first, this one's a true classic, if for no other reason than the sight of a young Neil Young already showing his rebellious nature.  While the rest of the band's looking forward, a slightly disinterested Young is shown looking over his shoulder.

Friday, December 7, 2012

JOHN KEATING - Space Experience


Artist: John Keating
Album: Space Experience
Label: Columbia
Catalog: CQ 32382
Year: 1972
Designer: not listed
Photographer: not listed
Artist: not listed
Grade: *** stars


Musically this album is a good example of uber-lounge; John Keating using a Electronic Music Studi. VCS3 synthesizer to stomp through a mixture of then-popular hits and his own atmospheric compositions.  The album is certainly listenable; you can see a review at: http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/KEATINGjohn.htm), but the album cover showcasing an uncredited NASA photo, is simply spectacular.  



Anyone know which space flight it captured and who the astronaut was ?




Thursday, December 6, 2012

JUICY LUCY and fruit abuse

UK original pressing Vertigo catalog VO 2/847 901
Artist: Juicy Lucy
Album: Juicy Lucy
Label: ATCO
Catalog: SD 33-325
Year: 1969
Designer: Peter Smith
Photographer: Peter Smith
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: *** stars



Ah, let's talk about the infamous cover on Juicy Lucy's self titled album ...  The original UK cover featured a somewhat haggard looking exotic dance by the name of Zelda Plum artlessly spread out on a bed of fruit.  The funny thing is that what was clearly intended as an erotic cover came off as anything but ... 

 
US pressing
Clearly concerned about American consumer sensibilities (we Americans still subscribe to those Puritan ethics), ATCO management elected to give the album's US release a somewhat toned down cover.  Basically photo shopping additional fruit on Plum's body so that all that was left was her head, the US cover was certainly racy for the late-1960s, though nowhere near as attention drawing as the UK version.  

Personally I've always felt bad for the fruit.  Seemed like a massive waste of good produce.  Really about all you can say is shame on the band for exhibiting such poor tastes and hopefully Ms. Plum went on to more rewarding experiences.


Artist: not applicable

Sunday, December 2, 2012

SANDY DENNY - "Sandy"


Artist: Sandy Denny
Album: Sandy
Label: A&M
Catalog: SP-4371
Year: 1972
Designer: not applicable
Design artist: not applicable
Grade: **** stars




For the most part, when it comes to picking album art for the blog, I've shied away from selecting anything that's blatantly violent, sexist, or offensive (yeah, there goes a sizable portion of the album cover population).  Anyhow, I'll make an exception for this album ...  


The late Sandy Denny isn't particularly well known in the States.  That's a crime since the woman had an amazing voice and recorded some of the world's best English folk-rock as a solo artist and as a member of Fairport Convention. 

The cleverly-titled "Sandy" was her second solo album. The cover art wasn't particularly original, or inventive, but at least to my eyes David Bailey's photo was stunning.  He literally captured the prettiest photo of Denny I've ever seen.  No idea how he did it, but for a woman who frequently looked like her hair was made of straw, he somehow managed to capture her true beauty and that determined inner strength.  Those eyes are amazing ...


Photographer: Davd Bailey